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EPA upgrades environmental status of Presque Isle Bay

Release Date: 12/6/2002
Contact Information: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

Contact: Roy Seneca: 215-814-5567
PHILADELPHIA - Significant improvements in the environmental health of Presque Isle Bay on Lake Erie has prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to upgrade the bay to an “area of concern in recovery stage” from the previous designation of simply “area of concern.”

The redesignation recognizes the improvements made over an 11-year period from when Presque Isle Bay was originally designated as an area of concern. Presque Isle Bay is located in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania on the southern shore of Lake Erie. Most of the watershed comprises urban and industrial areas within the City of Erie and Millcreek Township.
“It is with pleasure that we approve this redesignation, which demonstrates the environmental commitment from multiple partners to restore the health of Presque Isle Bay. It all started with a group of concerned citizens and progressed to this major milestone for the community,” said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.

The request for a change in status was formally submitted to EPA on Oct. 2 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. This is the first area of concern in the nation to be upgraded to recovery status.

In 1988, local citizens from Erie County, Pa. petitioned the International Joint Commission Science Advisory Board to include the bay as an area of concern. In 1991, the commission listed Presque Isle Bay as an area of concern after research concluded fish tumors and restrictions of dredging activities indicated substantial sediment contamination.

Several studies indicate improvements in the bay - the incidence of fish tumors has dropped dramatically and sediments have proven less toxic than originally believed. Under EPA guidelines, the new status calls for a pollution prevention plan, and a monitoring program to reduce the risk of future degradation and ensure that recovery continues.

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